Canada is undecided as to whether a public registry for high-risk child sex offenders is the way to go.
There seems to be somewhat of an uproar up north, Conservatives in the House of Commons wanting Liberals to create an online registry. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remaining mum on whether his government will move toward a registry, Public Safety Officials wanting to hold off a bit stating concerns of “vigilante type attacks” on sex offenders if there is a public registry.
Conservatives in this argument throw out the lines they know will reel in the attention of the public, especially parents. “Canadian parents have the right to know about dangerous sex offenders in their neighborhood”. “A registry would give parents the information they need to know to keep their children safe.” They talk a good talk. They say what they think people want to hear.
But, according to Trudeau, police are already alerted to high-risk offenders upon their release from incarceration and if the public needs to be notified of any issues, police can address public concerns. So, maybe the registry isn’t the answer.
Information obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act gives insight into legislative measures to help control child sex offender predators. Supposedly, the idea is that a public registry would allow the public access to the “inventory” (I find that an odd term to use) of high-risk sex offenders in their area and it would also allow the public to “take appropriate precautions” against sex offenders. (Of course we have no idea what those precautions are.) Precautions, it’s a word that’s supposed to make you feel like there’s something you can do, when often times, there just isn’t.
So while Canada grapples with their issues of the need for a registry I suggest they take a lesson from what’s happened with the U.S. Registry.
People on registries in the U.S. have died because of vigilantism. People who aren’t even on the registry have been targets of vigilantism because they live at an address that a registrant “used to live at”. Registrants can’t find housing, they can’t find employment. Families of registrants are fractured or dissolved completely because of the registry. Children of registrants end up homeless because of the registry. Family members of registrants lose their jobs just by virtue of association to a registrant.
No one is “safer” because of the registry. The registry is an ugly stain on this country, not because of those on it, but because we allow the registry to exist at all.
The registry doesn’t allow anyone any way of taking “precautions” against sex offenders. What kinds of precautions could one take?
The only thing the registry has done in the U.S. is to hurt registrants and their families, including their children. If Canadians are worried about keeping their children safe, they shouldn’t be attempting to publish a public registry that will in fact, hurt a lot of registrant’s children.
Canada needs to take a page from the U.S., the registry doesn’t work. Instead of arguing over whether to make a registry public, look at the mistakes the U.S. had made and try to come up with something better, something that hurts no one.
And thank you Mr. Prime Minister for taking a common sense breather on this one!